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Senate GOP Health Bill Collapses; Spicer Contradicts E-mails on Russia Meeting. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired July 18, 2017 - 06:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

[05:57:10] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, July 18, 6 a.m. here in New York. And we begin with breaking news.

The Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare collapses. That leaves a huge amount of doubt about the stability of health care for millions of Americans. Pricing, access could be negatively affected.

The final straw for the Bill came when two more senators announced their opposition to this effort.

President Trump had a late-night dinner to try to work a deal but fell short. We have seen the markets drop around the world in response overnight.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: So the president and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledging defeat, and they're now pushing for a straightforward repeal without a replacement plan.

How did all of this fall apart? We have it all covered for you. Let's begin with CNN's Suzanne Malveaux. She is live on Capitol Hill.

Give us the latest, Suzanne.


Well, as President Trump approaches his six-month mark in his presidency with record low approval ratings, this devastating blow now to his No. 1 legislative priority and also the promise that Republicans made to both repeal and replace Obamacare.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell giving up on Republicans' seven-year effort, now pushing to repeal Obamacare without a replacement plan in place.

The latest effort collapsing after two more Republican senators announced their opposition to the Bill simultaneously on Monday night, ensuring that the plan would fail. McConnell still planning to hold a vote in the coming days, on a 2015

measure that would repeal Obamacare but delay it taking effect for two years while a replacement Bill is crafted.

President Trump responding to the setback on Twitter, tweeting, "Republicans should just repeal failing Obamacare now and work on a new health care plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in."

This despite the fact that a straight repeal has little to no chance of passing. And it could leave millions uninsured and the insurance markets in turmoil.

The president's proposal starkly different from the promise he made on the campaign trail.


Repeal it and replace it.

Repeal and replace.

Repeal and replace.

Obamacare, we're going to repeal it. We're going to replace it. We're going to get something done.

MALVEAUX: President Trump was trying to drum up support for health care, hosting a handful of senators at a White House dinner Monday night. As senators Lee and Moran announced their opposition.

The president expressing optimism earlier in the day.

TRUMP: The Republican senators are great people, but they have a lot of different states. Some states need this; some states need that. But we're getting it together, and it's -- it's going to happen, right, Mike?


TRUMP: I think.

MALVEAUX: Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer immediately celebrating the defeat, tweeting, "This second failure of Trumpcare is proof positive that the core of this Bill is unworkable."

As Republicans continue to be split about the path forward, with conservative pushing the clean repeal effort and moderates like Senator John McCain calling for bipartisanship, McCain stressing that Republicans should receive input from members of both parties as they work to produce future legislation.


MALVEAUX: If McConnell's last-ditch effort to repeal Obamacare without replacing it fails, then lawmakers, Republicans, have a real decision to make whether or not to shore up Obamacare or let it wither. Republicans have said time and time again that they believe that Obamacare is collapsing. Now the real test: whether or not they will help and work with Democrats to fix it -- Alisyn, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Suzanne. Thank you very much.

Let's bring in our panel. We've got CNN political analyst David Gregory; CNN Politics reporter and editor-at-large Chris Cillizza; and CNN political commentator Errol Louis.

So there's a big question: How did this happen? How did they lose Lee and Moran, Errol, who were supposed to be the safer part of this bargain, which was those who wanted this health care Bill on the basis of the cuts.

And it reminded me of a story that you're going to love, because you're such a master of New York politics. So I went to my father's diary last night, because I remembered an episode like this. There was a guy -- they were two Italians, my father and Ralph Moreno, who was the head...

CAMEROTA: I like it already.

CUOMO: ... of the New York state legislature at one time. They're having a dinner just like the one last night, trying to finish a deal.

And I remember my father putting his hands over his ears and saying, "Ralph, I don't want to hear it. Don't say it."

And it was a reminder of the power of the false promise in politics. What happened here, Errol, to our understanding, is the cuts that were so important to people like Lee and Johnson and Portman, you know, these fiscal hawks, the word got out that, well, they may not go into effect, which was a deal to make the people who were worried about Medicaid expansion OK about the cuts. They may never go in effect.

And this may be a tale of the false promise, that the word got out that these cuts that are so important to so many Republicans may never happen.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You're being very harsh about the art of politics, though. I mean, you know, it's a real promise. It's just a delayed promise. And that is sort of the ambiguity and the push and pull that McConnell was trying to craft to keep some of the fiscal hawks on board and, at the same time, let people know we're not going to toss tens of millions of people off of their insurance.

So the cuts were supposed to sort of, you know, live in this kind of suspended animation, until they could get the deal done and get the Bill passed; and then they would figure out how it would actually play out in the months and years ahead.

Frankly, this is not that different, in some ways, from what the president is talking about when he says, "Look, do a straight repeal. Light a fuse, have a straight repeal that would take effect in a year that will give you some breathing room. You get the political win, and you'll also have the -- sort of pressure to get the thing done in the future."

These are the things that go into the sausage making that most of us haven't, up 'til now, really paid a lot of attention to. Of course, in your dad's era, this was all sort of back-room talk that maybe the son would find out about. But the reality is this is how it gets done. And as long as they can't bring everybody together, as long as those promises, that ambiguity, that suspended animation gets out and then makes people walk away from the deal, they're never going to get to "yes" on this.

CAMEROTA: David, let's talk about the time line that we know of, because this all did not happen in a back-room deal. We do know how this sort of unraveled.

So this week earlier there was word that there were two senators that were going to vote "no," but they could still do it if they could get John McCain to recover quickly and Vice President Pence.

And then last night, President Trump invited a group of, I think, seven senators over to dinner. Now these were, as we understand it, "yes" votes, but maybe they were influencers and maybe they were going to help spread the word of how great this Senate deal was. And then Lee and Moran, the two senators last night who ended up scuttling this, tweeted that they were going to be "no" votes, but we think that word first got to the president and the White House, and it cast a pall on that dinner.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean, I think that one of the problems is, when you have these delays, you lose even more momentum. I think if Mitch McConnell was going to snatch this out of the hands of skeptics and those who were opposed, he had to do it quickly; and he never quite got to the place where he could secure the votes.

I think one of the big factors that's overall of this is a president who's not very popular, is at 36 percent approval; and he doesn't know the intricacies of what he's trying to negotiate here, so he's really outsourced all of this to Capitol Hill. He doesn't have the juice. There's a lot of questions among Republicans of whether the White House is going to stand behind them when they face a very tough vote and then ultimately have to face the voters.

[06:05:19] I think the bigger issue that goes to Chris's point about, well, are there false promises here? Look, conservatives like Mike Lee never wanted to get into this business in the first place, where the federal government was going to take a huge role in trying to level the playing field in the health-care system. Once do you that, now you have constituents, Americans out there who are relying on federal subsidies, who are relying upon a kind of federal guarantee of some of these markets. To pull that hand away is going to disappoint a lot of people, particularly when you're talking about, "Well, we'll make some fixes down the line."

The immediate issue is now going to be how do you shore up some of the real deficiencies in some of these exchanges and in the rate structure, given that you've had Republicans and a president talking about how it's in a death spiral, and it's going to collapse? Now, they do face the need of shoring it up if they're not going to repeal it.

CUOMO: All right. So John McCain, as Alisyn was saying, played a role here, at least by proxy. When his surprise surgery came up, there was so much -- somewhat of a call to hold this in abeyance until we saw what happened with him.

He put out a statement. Let's put it up. We'll read it to people. "One of major problems with Obamacare was that it was written on a strict party line basis and driven through Congress without a single Republican vote. As this law continues to crumble in Arizona and states across the country, we must not repeat the original mistakes that led to Obamacare's failure. The Congress -- the Congress must now return to regular order, hold hearings, receive input from members of both parties, and heed the recommendations of our nation's governors so that we can produce a Bill that finally provides Americans with access to quality and affordable health care."

Chris Cillizza, is this the way forward, which is the return to the way the process is supposed to work?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: No. The reason for that, Chris, is because I think what you'll see is this repeal then replace effort fail, first of all.

This is what they've tried or wanted, many Republicans wanted to do at the start, realized they don't have the votes. And that's why they did repeal and replace together, because they didn't think they had the votes for repeal then replace. So I think you'll see that push falter. I struggle to see how they have the votes for that.

Then, I think, what you'll see is, instead of what McCain is calling for, which is sort of a broad reconsideration of the Bill -- "Well, let's start from scratch" -- I think they'll do what David is talking about. There are things that need to be changed in order for the system to continue working and to better the way in which the system works in a lot of states. I think -- and you've seen Mitch McConnell say, if we don't get a Bill done, this is what we're going to have to do. I think you'll see some tweaks to the current Bill.

I do not think you will see a whole-scale reexamination on a bipartisan basis with the input of governors.

I think, if you are Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, you want to be done with this as soon as humanly possible. You want to move on to anything else -- tax reform, whatever else it is. You might even want to move on to funding the alleged border wall. But what you do not want to do is now spend another year. I mean, that process McCain is proposing would take a very long time, another year or so, debating this, with the real possibly, Chris, that you wind up exactly where you are.

CAMEROTA: Yes. CILLIZZA: The dirty little secret here, guys, is that there isn't some great Bill sitting out there. Lots of people didn't like Obamacare. This Bill didn't even wind up getting a vote. There's a reason for that. There's no easy simple solution, politically speaking.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but here's the problem with what Chris is saying, Errol, moving on from health care. So these new national polls take the pulse of the people and what they think is most important. So if you look at the Bloomberg national poll, health care is at the top. Thirty-five percent of Americans believe that that is the most important issue facing the country, followed then, a distant second, by the economy, terrorism, immigration, climate change.

One more thing to show you how they think the president has done dealing with health care: 64 percent disapprove of his job on health care.

LOUIS: That's right. I think some of that, frankly, is the result of all of the attention that we've given it.

CAMEROTA: I see. So if we had been talking -- obviously, if there had been a terror attack, the numbers would be different.

LOUIS: Right. And not just that. There was a poll in mid-June that suggested that, among Republican voters, only 8 percent thought that health care should be the No. 1 priority.

So, you know, the uncertainty itself, though, is the real problem. You know, we've got you know, another sort of ticking time bomb, is that in November it's open enrollment time. That's not that long from now. It happens to be something that a lot of people care about. The

insurers, the companies are wondering what they're going to do, what the prospects of going forward are going to be.

[06:10:07] And again, for families, for people who are making the decisions for their kids, for their parents, for their spouses, for themselves, for their businesses, it's agonizing to wonder, "What am I going to have to do? What's going to happen to my premiums? What's guaranteed? What's not guaranteed? Where am I going to buy this stuff? What's my insurer going to do to me come the fall?" And that, I think, is the negative sort of blow-back that's going to force Congress to either do something really, really quickly or, just as Chris suggests, walk away from the whole thing.

GREGORY: Here's the other issue, though. You have -- you have two schools of thought on this, right? You have conservatives who are worried about the conservative project in government. If they just walk away from the idea of health care and accept that there's a huge new entitlement that is now baked in to our entitlement system, that really runs afoul of conservative thinking about government.

But that's what's going on maybe in Washington and in think tanks. People every day out there who are saying in that poll how important health care is, they have lived through the brutal efficiencies of the insurance market, about their family members not being covered for sickness, about having to pay more in premiums. What they want and what they've come to rely on, as inefficient as it is, is the federal government putting its big foot in the middle of that marketplace to try to make things better.

So even where Obamacare is not working very well, where it's creating uncertainty or where insurance companies are not making out the way they expected to and are raising premiums, people are not looking for the government to just hightail it out of the market. They want some support. And that's why, ultimately, I think Congress is going to have to stay in this business.

CUOMO: Now they've created a problem where political skill is going to be very, very paramount and important, which is this reminds me so much of what happened in 2008-2009. I covered, you know, that depression very deeply. And once the banks didn't know what the remedy was going to be, rates went all over the place; and people paid the price.

CILLIZZA: That's it.

CUOMO: And now you may see that in a way we've never seen it before. We'll leave the conversation there. We'll talk about it more when we get more information. But that's the risk of the uncertainty, is that everything starts to unravel the exact way that Republicans have been talking about that it was going to happen, except they never said it would be by their hand.

All right. Gentlemen, thank you very much. We'll get back to you in a second.

Other big news this morning: the unusual story of Donald Trump Jr., tangled in Russian intrigue, has taken another twist. Mixed motives for that controversial meeting, courtesy of mixed messaging from the White House. The president tweeting his son did what any politician would do to get dirt on an opponent, but Sean Spicer's statement later in the day contradicted that, saying there was another motive.

CNN's Joe Johns live at the White House with more.

Joe, can you untangle it?

JOE JOHNS, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I'll try to, Chris. Look, another bewildering moment in the White House briefing room, and it just goes to show how the White House is struggling to come up with a coherent explanation for Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with that Russian lawyer.

The initial explanation was that the meeting was all about adoption of Russian children and something called the Magnitsky Act of 2012, which deals with sanctions on Russia. It was only later that the real motivation of the meeting came out, that it was to find dirt on Hillary Clinton.

So yesterday in the briefing room, Sean Spicer appearing to revert back to the initial explanation. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There was nothing, as far as we know, that would lead anyone to believe that there was anything except for a discussion about adoption and the Magnitsky Act.


JOHNS: Meanwhile, there is more fallout from that meeting, and it does involve another member of the president's staff, as well as a member of his family. That would be his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Democrats on Capitol Hill are calling for his security clearance, his provisional security clearance, to be taken away.

CNN's Sara Murray reporting last night that his final security clearance may never be granted. Alisyn, of course, it's up to the president to decide that, but it's subject to blowback when he does.

CAMEROTA: OK. Joe, thank you very much for all of that news. And we will be talking about that, whether or not Jared Kushner's security clearance is now at risk.

Our panel discusses all of that when we come back.



[06:18:23] SPICER: There was nothing, as far as we know, that would lead anyone to believe that there was anything except for a discussion about adoption and the Magnitsky Act.


CUOMO: There was nothing except everything.

CAMEROTA: Except the subject line of the email.

CUOMO: It's everything that was discussed in the setup for this meeting from Goldstone, the publicist for this Russian pop star, everything about it was set up to not be about what the press secretary just said, everything.

CAMEROTA: Let's discuss why the press secretary took that tact, when dealing with the press, as though we don't all have videotape and memories. Let's bring back our panel: David Gregory, Chris Cillizza and Errol Louis.

Chris, have they been keeping Sean Spicer in a soundproof room where he did not know that there's been an ongoing conversation where Don Jr. has already admitted in his e-mails that he was lured by the prospect of dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russians?

CUOMO: "I love it" did not go to adoption policy and sanctions, as I remember from my reading of the emails. CILLIZZA: I listened it to yesterday, and I immediately thought that

it felt like a Sean Spicer press briefing from eight days ago, right? I mean, that was when that quote would have had some relevance before the Don Jr. emails, which by the way, Don Jr. released before the president of the United States tweeted out that anyone would have taken this meeting to get dirt on or opposition research on a political opponent.

There's really no explanation other than -- well there's two. One, the president says and does what he wants. The White House communications staff says something totally different; that's one.

Two, I do think that Sean Spicer is just refusing to give an inch even when the truth is obvious. I don't know whether it's a concerted effort to kill these daily press briefings, to just sort of kill them by lack of information, kill them by misstatement; or he thinks that somehow someone believes it, but the evidence -- most people, sorry, I mean, I'm left without words.

CAMEROTA: The verbal gymnastics that you're going through are entertaining.

CILLIZZA: Well, what's hard, Alisyn, is most people are confronted with something that is proven demonstrably false don't say that thing. I don't say I can dunk an 11-foot hoop, because David Gregory and I will roll out the 11-foot hoop we have back here in D.C. And it will be clear that I can jump about 8'1".

Like, I don't understand why you would say something like this when it -- it takes literally one Internet search to prove you 100 percent absolutely beyond a shadow of a doubt wrong. So if there's a strategy behind it, if there is, I can confidently say it's a bad strategy.

CUOMO: I -- the suggestion would be, Errol, that the strategy is the truth is what we say it is. That's what they're banking on. And if they say that it was about this, the narrative will turn that way.

CAMEROTA: The president isn't using that, but they're not even using the same falsehood.

CUOMO: Well, I think they probably thought it was two irons in the fire. One, everybody would take a meeting like this, which is not totally true, not these types of circumstances. Would you take a meeting to get dirt on your opponent, eight days a week you would take it. With this -- these red flags waving in your face, when you look at, no, you wouldn't.

And the other iron in the fire would be, "Oh, and by the way, this was innocent. It was only about the sanctions anyway. That lawyer was a dupe and that Goldstone is one of the most prolific liars we have ever seen in public life before."

CAMEROTA: All right. And meanwhile -- meanwhile, Errol and David, I just want to get this in before you respond. "The Wall Street Journal," OK, Rupert Murdoch owned property. It has a pretty scathing editorial this morning about how the Trumps have mishandled much of this.

"Mr. Trump somehow seems to believe that his outside personality and his social media following make him larger than the presidency. He's wrong. He and his family seem oblivious to the brutal realities of Washington politics. Those realities will destroy Mr. Trump, his family and their business reputation unless they change their strategy towards the Russia probe. They don't have much more time to do it." Errol.

LOUIS: You know, it reminds me of some of the apocalyptic warnings that were issued to the Trump campaign all throughout 2016, and he ignored all of it, and he became president anyway.

It's a hard-hitting editorial. I think all of your viewers should take a look at. It's advocating what they're calling radical transparency. It's taking us back to the Watergate era and the release of the tapes. Right? Put it all out there, let everybody figure it out, and importantly, I think the editorial says every piece of what you are trying to hide is going to come to light.

Everything is going to be found out. If it's not found out by the special counsel, the Congress will get to it. If Congress doesn't get to it, the press will get to it. You've got to just put it all out instead of having this death by 1,000 cuts. It's perfectly sound advice that I strongly suspect the president.

CUOMO: But David Gregory, I want to get your take on this. They did fit in a little caveat in this editorial that also, you know, kind of balances out the price of disclosure. This radical transparency, as Errol called it, is the opposite of the Clinton stonewall strategy, which should be instructive. That strategy saved Bill Clinton's presidency in the '90s at a fearsome price, and only because the media and Democrats in Congress rallied behind him.

"Mister" -- this is the sentence. "Mr. Trump can't count on the same from Republicans, and most of the media want him run out of office." That is the caveat to complete transparency here, which is that assumes that the president and anyone around him wouldn't pay a huge price for the difference between what was said before the disclosure and after the transparency.

GREGORY: Well, because look, this White House has a huge credibility problem, because on so many matters, the president and his top aides don't tell the truth. That comes with a heavy cost. They are disingenuously attacking the media so that people won't believe what is truthfully reported.

It's not to say that the media doesn't make mistakes or doesn't show bias in some cases, but there is certainly a body of evidence here that the media is reporting on, unearthing through investigative reporting that the president just wants to put his hand to and say you can't believe it's right in front of your eyes. That's the core of the credibility problem, and that is a disingenuous game that the president is playing.

[06:25:04] By the way, let me just say that it is not normal that the White House keeps putting out these briefings that are not televised, trying to shut down the major source of how Americans get news and information via television or video on their devices. It's wrong, and it's because they lack credibility, and they're playing this game.

But in this particular case, he's not going to have the backup of Republicans either, who see the same problems that "the Wall Street Journal" is identifying here, which is a fundamental lack of credibility that will overshadow everything that he's trying to do.

CAMEROTA: Panel, thank you very much for all of your thoughts on this. We'll be covering it throughout the program.

CUOMO: Another important story that is shrouded in mystery. You heard about what happened in Minneapolis. An officer there fatally shot a woman after she called 911 for help. So now, we're learning more about who this woman was and how her life ended all too soon. Next.


CUOMO: The family of a woman killed by Minneapolis police after calling 911 say they are desperate for information about the moments leading up to the shooting. Now police say Justine Damond called 911 to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her home. This was late Saturday night. Two officers responded. One of those officers shot her.